The WA Government has revealed how it plans to reconnect the Great Northern Highway through Fitzroy Crossing, following significant flood damage.
Sections of the highway around Fitzroy Crossing were completely washed away in the recent one-in-100-year flood event, while the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge sustained significant damage and will need to be fully replaced.
The plan will involve the implementation of a barge system across the river, which will initially be operated by tugs, with a cable system to be operationalised shortly after.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti thanked the community for their patience, while plans were being developed. “We will work as fast as we can to implement these solutions but being in the middle of the wet season, there remains the possibility of significant rainfall events in the coming weeks and months which could disrupt works.
“As we look to implement these solutions, we will work with the community and industry, particularly transport operators, to make sure there is a good understanding of how the temporary barge option will operate.
“This will be the first time a barge system like this has been operated in this part of our state, so the final configuration and operation will depend largely on the conditions on the ground.
The barge system can be adapted when the river levels fall too low, using portable pontoons, which would act as a temporary crossing.
The barge system will be used while Main Roads constructs a low-level floodway crossing, which will provide a more permanent option while the full replacement of the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge is undertaken.
“Assessments of the existing bridge have been completed, and Main Roads has determined that given the significant damage, a full rebuild is the only feasible option,” Saffioti added.
“Importantly, we will be looking to work closely with Traditional Owner groups on key cultural heritage issues, and to ensure that out of this emergency, we are creating employment and training opportunities for the local Indigenous communities.”
Main Roads is considering appropriate locations for the low-level floodway crossing, with construction expected to take around four months to complete.
Barge infrastructure could be reinstated if the river levels exceed the height of the low-level floodway crossing at any point.
Main Roads says it will work with industry to ensure transport operators are briefed on the operation of the barge system and is currently assessing options for breakdown areas for trucks on approach to Fitzroy Crossing.
Planning for a new bridge across the Fitzroy River is well underway. The new bridge will need to be higher and longer, and will be dual-lane, rather than the current single-lane bridge.
Main Roads will be commencing a fast-tracked procurement process to select a preferred contractor as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, heavy machinery and a 40-person strong road reconstruction crew continue to carry out repair works on the severely damaged section of the Great Northern Highway through Willare.
The crews are working from both ends of a damaged 10-kilometre section of the highway and will be putting in place temporary gravel roads to allow for the reconnection between Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing.
It’s anticipated the works on the Willare section will take around four weeks to complete, with planning underway for a full road rebuild to begin in the dry season.